Monday, June 16, 2014

Food Adventures in Iceland Part 2. June 15th 2014

Rhubarb is about the only "fruit" we have seen grown in Iceland and used in cooking. It is not technically a fruit really but is very tasty in a pie,

or in jam.
We thought we saw some growing on the side of the road near a cottage we were staying in....but weren't game enough to cook it and eat it in case it was a poisonous lookalike.

Early on in our trip in a little fishing village called Olafsvik,  we went hunting for fresh fish to buy.
Eventually after much driving around and asking people hanging around buildings at the dock, we found a man who showed us some big tubs of fish.  He seemed quite bemused about our interest and when we asked how much for two of these Oceanic Red fish,  he said we could just have them for nothing! I don't think people usually just turn up at the docks to buy fish here. They tasted very nice that night for dinner though.

One night we stayed on a dairy farm where you could watch live action milking on TV from your hotel room! That night we had a buffet dinner with lovely lamb soup, roast lamb, quiche, cod, salmon and finished it off with rhubarb pie and their homemade ice cream. There was a pretty special view of a glacier from the dining room too!

Food Adventures in Iceland. June 15 2014

I am writing this in Reykjavik, Iceland at the end of two weeks travelling around in a rental car with my three sisters. We have been mostly self catering but have tried to find a few local things to sample on our way. I must confess we haven't tried the rotten shark which is a speciality, neither fillet of foal which was on the menu of a hotel where we stayed in an attached cottage. Neither have we tried the dried pieces of fish that are for sale in supermarkets...a favourite thing of Icelanders to snack on. 
Fresh fruit and vegetables are not in abundance which is a surprise as the climate here is not as severe as some northern hemisphere countries. Here in the south west of the country, there is plenty of free geothermal energy to heat glasshouses yet we have not seen many and many of those were derelict. Yesterday though we bought some hot house grown raspberries just outside Reykjavik which were delicious.
Lamb and fish are the most commonly eaten meats....there are plenty of sheep all over the island and plenty of fishing villages too. There used to be a thriving salted herring industry but one year back in the 1960s the herring didn't turn up at all....they had been overfished almost to oblivion. One evening I made a smoked salmon pasta dish with some very strongly smoked salmon.

My favourite discovery is that of Skyr pronounced skeer. It is like a thick yoghurt but actually a cheese made with starter culture and rennet and then the curds are strained. Unfortunately you can only make skyr with some old skyr as the starter although I think I might have a go with just some thermophilic cultures when I get home just to see if I get anywhere near the taste. Skyr comes unflavoured or sweetened with different fruits.
In the geothermal springs another speciality is bread cooked in the steam. We were expecting bread however this tasted more like date loaf without the dates, more cake like in texture, and sweetened with brown sugar. It was great to have for morning tea on the road!